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December 27, 2008

Philippine Telecoms:
NTC sees double-digit growth in subscriber numbers

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said mobile phone subscriber growth may have hit double-digits this year, boosted by holiday consumer spending, reported local daily the Manila Times.

Edgardo Cabarrios, NTC common carrier and authorization department director, told reporters that the number of cellular phone subscribers may have grown 10 percent this year.

The NTC official attributed the growth to the cheaper subscriber identification module (SIM) cards and Christmas spending. At present, SIM cards cost between 30 peso and 40 peso.

At-end September, the combined subscriber base of the country’s mobile phone providers stood at more than 65.9 million.

Of the total, the PLDT group accounted for 34.2 million, of which Smart Communications Inc. had 20.9 million and Pilipino Telephone Corp. (Piltel) had 13.3 million.

Globe Telecom Inc.’s total subscriber base reached 23.7 million, up 24 percent from last year. The Touch Mobile (TM) brand brought in more than 800,000 new subscribers its highest quarterly-performance.

Sun Cellular, the brand of Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc. had about 8 million subscribers at end-September.

Earlier, Moody’s Investors Service projected that local telecom companies may suffer lower revenues next year as subscribers cut spending due to slower economic growth.

Laura Acres, Moody’s vice president in Hong Kong said cutbacks in expenditure by businesses and consumers may impact telco revenues, especially in more consumer discretionary areas, such as broadband uptake and mobile data use.

Acres, however, said that the continued expansion of both subscriber numbers and minutes of use should offset slowing growth in average revenues per user (ARPU), particularly in developing Asian economies.

At end-third quarters, Globe saw its net ARPU for prepaid plans go down 17 percent to 207 peso, while TM suffered a 32-percent contraction to 105 peso. For postpaid plans, Globe’s ARPU was down by 9 percent to 1,449 peso from last year’s 1,593 peso.

Smart’s prepaid and postpaid ARPU were also down to 223 peso and 1,505 peso, respectively, from 232 peso and 1,510 peso. Piltel’s was also down to 148 peso from 159 peso.

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